The Baltimore Ravens enter Week 12 at 5-5, essentially out of the division race and hoping and praying that a Wild Card spot falls into their laps. Unfortunately, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the defending Super Bowl champions, are in a similar situation.
Both need this win desperately to salvage their respective seasons.
What does Baltimore need to do next Sunday night to avoid playing meaningless football the rest of the season?
1. Give us some Troy Smith.
Smith has been non-existent in the Ravens' game plans this year. After having some success with their own version of the Wildcat last year, Ravens fans have seen none of it this year.
Since the loss to New England in Week Four, the Ravens offense has gone MIA. Not scoring a touchdown against the Colts cost them the game. Putting Troy Smith in may be the spark the Ravens need.
2. Throw the ball down the field on the Pittsburgh Secondary.
If nothing else, the absence of Troy Polamalu should give Cam Cameron a good reason to throw downfield early. Derrick Mason caught nine passes for 142 yards against the Colts. The other Ravens receivers not named Ray Rice caught a total of seven.
If this game turns into the Ray Rice and Derrick Mason show, Baltimore can watch their playoff chances ride off on the next MARC Train.
3. Ray Lewis needs to play better.
I cannot believe that I just wrote that sentence. Lewis appeared to get injured late in the first half, and it showed. On one play where Peyton Manning was rolling to his right, Lewis seemed to half-heartedly chase Manning to the sideline and force him to throw the ball away.
There was no "Ray Lewis Speed" on that play. Also, on Joseph Addai's five-yard touchdown run, Lewis was faked out so bad, he completely missed what should have been an easy stop.
4. Score a touchdown.
It sounds simple, but apparently for the Baltimore offense, it seemed as if they wanted to give new field goal kicker Billy Cundiff an in-game tryout, if you will.
The game against the Colts was the sixth game that the Ravens did not score an offensive touchdown in the first half. When you kick field goals rather than scoring touchdowns, you don't usually win the game.